Oro Community Development Project (OCDP) was established after the widespread destruction caused by Cyclone Guba in November 2007.
What began on a small scale to supply basics such as books and pencils, developed into a much larger commitment to help meet some of the province’s most pressing needs.
The PNG High Commissioner, Sir Charles Lepani, officially launched OCDP. Since then, experienced and highly qualified staff have travelled to Oro to work on various projects. OCDP has always worked actively with the participation of local people. We are a registered charity in PNG and Australia and the governing board includes members from both countries.
Along the way, we have had a strong and committed base of very generous donors. All of these groups have helped shape OCDP’s work and we thank them sincerely for their ongoing support.
In the first instance, resources were provided to primary schools at Buna and Hohorita.
Following this, at St James School Hohorita, local handymen were employed to renovate classrooms and construct a library. Books were carefully selected and a library borrowing system created to help develop a learning space that promoted the importance of reading.
Perimeter fencing of a large part of the school was completed and water tanks were installed to provide clean drinking water for staff and students. Teachers reinforced the importance of basic hygiene and hand washing to promote good health. Secure and private waterless, composting toilets were built for female students and staff. The privacy that this provided was one small but significant step towards encouraging girls to continue their education, rather than leaving at a young age, as is common practice in PNG.
A school garden was built to provide fresh produce to the school community. The sale of day-old chickens enabled the school to operate a poultry farm to provide a source of income. OCDP facilitated an agreement with the University of Applied Science and the Environment at Popondetta. This provided training to the teachers to improve their knowledge of the latest animal husbandry and cropping techniques. A member of the university staff followed up the lectures with frequent visits to the school to provide further advice.
Ongoing teaching training in effective programming and assessment was also a focus area. Facing problems of under-funding and an inflexible bureaucracy, the school council worked with OCDP to more clearly understand their roles and responsibilities. The majority of these members had not previously received any training making their task an incredibly difficult one.
Health & Popondetta General Hospital
Initially, OCDP doctors conducted health clinics for the students and villagers in the surrounding areas of Hohorita. The Fred Hollows Foundation became partners, running their eye clinics in conjunction with the clinics. We also trained and supplied birthing kits for women who had no access to a hospital, being the case with most deliveries outside Popondetta.
Following frequent requests for assistance from Popondetta General Hospital, a carefully selected OCDP medical team undertook a systematic review of the hospital operations. Sequential reports on all departments of the hospital have continued to be provided after each team visit.
Training in maternal health, tuberculosis and infection control to hospital staff soon began. Those from government regional health centres and aid posts as well as those employed by the health service provided by New Britain Palm Oil, were also beneficiaries of our training schemes. OCDP continues to train throughout the province in maternal health and TB, both of these being huge priorities for PNG.
This training has been coupled with the provision of medical equipment. New equipment as well as the refurbishing of what already existed has occurred.
OCDP’s largest project to date was the construction of a separate ward to treat patients suffering from tuberculosis. This had been identified as an urgent priority to enable the isolation and proper treatment of seriously ill patients.
Papua New Guinea is a difficult country in many respects – geographically, economically, politically and socially. Our work has encountered frequent challenges and frustrations. Patience is not just a virtue in PNG – it is a necessity. The problems can seem overwhelming but we are reassured by the evidence that we are making a real difference to the lives of people in Oro Province.
In 2019, access to basic medical services and a universal education system should be available to everyone. Sadly in PNG the struggle continues. With your support, we are committed to continue our work.